Do you offer creativity services? Do you teach or facilitate individuals and groups to get new ideas and make new decisions?
People who do often know the value of creative thinking and how anyone can develop their creative skills by using a range of techniques. They know what prevents and encourages creativity, how to generate more and better ideas, find imaginative solutions to problems and discover ways of breaking through thinking blocks.
New thinking can be approached through a variety of methods. One is the Osborn-Parnes model of Creative Problem Solving (or CPS). The process is a structured, step-by-step method designed to approach problems or challenges in imaginative and innovative ways, exploring different options and finally formulating a plan of action for exciting new futures. A variety of techniques are used throughout. CPS can be applied to a variety of situations in work and life.
There are a number of models for the Osborne-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process, which do you use?
Creative Problem Solving Models à la Osborn-Parnes
I studied the Osborn-Parnes process at the International Center for Studies in Creativity with Dr. Sid Parnes who founded it. It was linear. That’s how we thought in the 1970’s, in straight lines, taking one step at a time, doing our best to maintain order, channeling freedom. We called it the accordion model because of its look. The diamond shapes represent generating options, then choosing from among those for a refreshed focus before going to the next step.
CPS circa 1970's
Bubble – Multiple Entry Points
In the 1990’s CPS morphed into connected bubbles reflecting shifts in attitudes toward meaningful and directed connectedness. Freedom continues to be channeled and is given wider birth. This model shows three unique stages and gives permission to enter in at any part of the process, not only at the beginning as the one above. Notice the diamond shapes have smoother edges, arrows give directions and the three bubbles tell you exactly what to do.
CPS circa 1990's
Systemic – Thinking Skills
The ICSC continues to research and develop the CPS model transforming the approach to using it. The newest version, Thinking Skills Model, appears as a system with multiple entry points depending on the situation or the task at hand (centre hub). It’s construction corresponds with our current view of the world – interrelated, web-like. This model shows the unique essence of each stage through their renaming (for further info, see Creative Leadership Skills that Drive Change).
The models above provide logical rational approaches to CPS, giving overt direction. This one lets you know what occurs in the three main stages and maps the thinking processes used for each. Notice the diamonds stay, the three main focus points are connected in fluid colours and the start point depends on the situational need.
CPS circa 2007
Research on a newer CPS model is being done by Cyndi Burnett and Janice Fransisco that integrates affective or feeling domains in the process. It’s a reflection of how our view of the world is shifting toward tapping into and valuing the human spirit for creative outcomes.
All three CPS models are effective guides for new thinking and action; each extends beyond the foundational brainstorming method of first generating many options, then choosing from among them to arrive at novel and relevant outcomes. The first in a linear flow, the second, logical and bucketed way, and the third with incumbent thinking skills to extend beyond the usual. The fourth will overtly tap into how people feel throughout as they deal with increasing ambiguity and complexity in a spirit of being open to new results and creating change in behaviour, output, and processes.
Which is best if you had to choose? The one that works for you.
You can learn Osborn-Parnes CPS at Creative Problem Solving Institute, being held this June in Buffalo. They use the bubble model.
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